What is your Sermon Prep Process?

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NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi All,

There were a couple of older threads, but it seemed like there was space for a new one on this topic. As an intern, I get to preach with a little regularity, so I'm starting to develop something of a regular process for preparing. I've been thinking about this more intentionally lately, and it has me wondering what it looks like for other people, both full-time and bi-vocational. I'd love to get some insight to refine my own process.

So what does your sermon-prep process look like? How many hours do you spend prepping? Do you have specific steps you follow in order? Do you do specific tasks on specific days throughout the week? Any info you're willing to share is helpful!
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
This is what I do. This is hardly the only way, and I would be very hesitant to say that there is only one right way to do it.

1. Pray over the text for the Holy Spirit's help in exegeting the text, my own heart, and the hearts of the congregants.

2. Wrestle with the original language in the passage. Lexicons, grammars, outlining, and writing down questions (usually the journalistic questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how). Develop my own outline of the text and seek to discern its one main point.

3. Read as many commentaries as I can, developing a conversation between what I developed and the history of interpretation.

4. Conglomerate the notes I have from steps 2 and 3 into a text-order (I fit as many of them as I can into my study Bible).

5. Adjust the outline as needed after understanding the history of interpretation.

6. Write the sermon full-text.

7. Pray again over the sermon.

8. Deliver it.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
My approach is very similar to Lane's. I also like to read the passages (sometimes chapters) before and after what we are focusing on to get in tune with the context.

Wrestle with the original language...yes.

On the practical aspect of note taking, I use OneNote and tag notes or quotes to remind myself why I thought they were appropriate. They get incorporated into the sermon notes.

I do write the whole thing out, but I do not read it while delivering it. I use headings and reference the sermon notes mostly if I am pointing to a passage in Scripture or quoting something.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
This is what I do. This is hardly the only way, and I would be very hesitant to say that there is only one right way to do it.

1. Pray over the text for the Holy Spirit's help in exegeting the text, my own heart, and the hearts of the congregants.

2. Wrestle with the original language in the passage. Lexicons, grammars, outlining, and writing down questions (usually the journalistic questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how). Develop my own outline of the text and seek to discern its one main point.

3. Read as many commentaries as I can, developing a conversation between what I developed and the history of interpretation.

4. Conglomerate the notes I have from steps 2 and 3 into a text-order (I fit as many of them as I can into my study Bible).

5. Adjust the outline as needed after understanding the history of interpretation.

6. Write the sermon full-text.

7. Pray again over the sermon.

8. Deliver it.
Thanks, this is a helpful outline! How long do you think you spend on the entire process, on average?
 

Morgan

Puritan Board Freshman
When I was younger and first redeemed (before I made my way to Reformed circles) I attended Stephen Olford's one week Biblical Preaching "course". I do recall him stating that 30 hours per sermon was the norm for him. I only preach a handful of times per year, but I think my prep would average over 40 hours per message. Obviously someone who has been in ministry for decades would not need the same length to prep and someone preaching two messages a week along with Bible studies would not have the same time available.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, this is a helpful outline! How long do you think you spend on the entire process, on average?
This varies wildly depending on the difficulty of the passage and how much the commentators have written on it. The process does get faster over time, since you eventually get to know what you are looking for. Experience informs your process quite a bit. I spend maybe a minimum of 8 hours on one sermon, maximum around 20. Usually it is around 10.
 

MDR

Puritan Board Freshman
This is not hard and fast, but here is the basic exegetical work I do (I could expand on any part of the exegetical work in more detail if anyone is interested):

1. Do a brief survey of the book in which the passage is located.
2. Establish the larger context of the passage.
3. Confirm the limits of the passage.
4. Consider translational alternatives.
5. Use a sentence diagram to outline the passage.
6. Check my exegetical outline against exegetical outlines in quality commentaries.
7. Interrogate the passage noting observations, and questions I have.
8. Consider any significant textual issues with the passage.
9. Look at key terms and words in the passage.
10. Consider figures of speech used in the passage.
11. Consider typology used in the passage.
12. Undertake mini-word studies on significant words in the passage (including looking at the semantic domain of the lemma)
13. Consider the historical context.
14. Consider the genre of the passage.
15. Consider the literary context of the passage.
16. Depending of the book in which the passage is located, consult harmonies.
17. Consider the literary structure of the passage, and where it fits into the wider literary structure.
18. Consider intertextual matters.
19. Ask myself, what is the big idea of the passage.
20. Consult theological lexicons for key words I have considered in my mini-word study.
21. Consider the main theological themes of the passage.
22. Consult books on biblical theology
23. Consult books on systemic theology
24. Consider books on historical theology.
25. Consider theocentric books (i.e. books on the attributes of God)
26. Examine cross references.
27. Consult commentaries.
27. Make any final changes to my exegetical outline.

Then next comes the homiletical work of application, illustration etc...

I would say that I take between 8-20 hours on the sermon prep (as a whole) dependent on the occasion and the passage I am preaching from.

For me, at the heart of every message must be Christ. There must always be an exalting of His beauty, majesty and glory.
 
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NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
This is not hard and fast, but here is the basic exegetical work I do (I could expand on any part of the exegetical work in more detail if anyone is interested):

1. Do a brief survey of the book in which the passage is located.
2. Establish the larger context of the passage.
3. Confirm the limits of the passage.
4. Consider translational alternatives.
5. Use a sentence diagram to outline the passage.
6. Check my exegetical outline against exegetical outlines in quality commentaries.
7. Interrogate the passage noting observations, and questions I have.
8. Consider any significant textual issues with the passage.
9. Look at key terms and words in the passage.
10. Consider figures of speech used in the passage.
11. Consider typology used in the passage.
12. Undertake mini-word studies on significant words in the passage (including looking at the semantic domain of the lemma)
13. Consider the historical context.
14. Consider the genre of the passage.
15. Consider the literary context of the passage.
16. Depending of the book in which the passage is located, consult harmonies.
17. Consider the literary structure of the passage, and where it fits into the wider literary structure.
18. Consider intertextual matters.
19. Ask myself, what is the big idea of the passage.
20. Consult theological lexicons for key words I have considered in my mini-word study.
21. Consider the main theological themes of the passage.
22. Consult books on biblical theology
23. Consult books on systemic theology
24. Consider books on historical theology.
25. Consider theocentric books (i.e. books on the attributes of God)
26. Examine cross references.
27. Consult commentaries.
27. Make any final changes to my exegetical outline.

Then next comes the homiletical work of application, illustration etc...

I would say that I take between 8-20 hours on the sermon prep (as a whole) dependent on the occasion and the passage I am preaching from.

For me, at the heart of every message must be Christ. There must always be an exalting of His beauty, majesty and glory.
Thank you for this thorough outline! I do want to get better at integrating theological works into my sermon prep process as well. That's something I have not done much of yet.
 

Jonathco

Puritan Board Freshman
As a new elder, I preached my first sermon yesterday. This thread looks like it will be very helpful, as I move into rotation to preach semi-regularly, allowing our full time pastor the opportunity to sit under the preaching of the Word too.
 
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